Athirapally Hydel Power Project

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Athirapally Hydel Power Project

  • Recently, Athirapally Hydro Electric project (AHEP) has been approved by Kerala government on the Chalakkudy River in Thrissur district of the state.
  • The river already has 5 dams for power and one for irrigation.
  • It will be the seventh along the 145 km course of the Chalakkudy River.
Athirapally Hydel Power Project

Overview

  • The totaled installed capacity of AHEP is 163MW.
  • The project is expected to make use of the tail end of the existing Poringalkuthu Hydro Electric Project that is built across Chalakkudy River.
  • The project envisages diverting water from the Poringalkuthu project as well as from its own catchment of 26 sq. km.
  • Kerala state government has given no-objection certificate (NOC) to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) for a period seven years.
  • The state government has also permitted the project to proceed with the implementation.
  • As per KSEB officials, they are confident to manage approval from MOEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) .
  • In 2012, the project was approved by an Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for the river valley and hydro-electric projects.
  • EACs are constituted for giving environmental clearance under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) .
  • The project is facing opposition from many fronts
    • KSEB first mooted the project in 1996 but it was suspended due to opposition from local community backed by environmentalists and politicians with green concerns.
    • A 1997 report by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board pointed out that the power project would adversely affect the ecology of the fragile ecosystem at Athirappilly.
  • Some rarest species of birds, animals and plants will be threatened by the project. Like
    • Hornbills
    • Tigers
    • Leopards
    • Nilgiri Langur
    • The lion-tailed macaque
    • The rare Cochin forest cane turtle.
  • Fish varieties in Chalakudy River would be impacted.
  • Around 168 hectares of biodiversity- rich forests in the Western Ghats would be submerged.
  • Kadar tribal settlements in the forests will be dismantled and displaced.
  • The move seems to be violative of forest rights granted to Kadars under the FRA, 2006 (Forest Rights Act, 2006) .
  • It would sever the only link between
    • Peechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Thrissur
    • The Idamalayar basin of Periyar River.
  • The vital elephant corridor between Parambikulam Sanctuary (also a tiger reserve) and the Pooyamkutty forests would also be affected.
  • The project would wipe out the majestic Athirappally and Vazhachal waterfalls, affecting the tourism badly.

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